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Danny Ainge: Walking boot for KG ‘just precautionary’

04.11.13 at 5:23 pm ET

Making his weekly appearance on ‘€œSalk & Holley’€ Thursday afternoon, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge discussed a number of topics, including the sight of Kevin Garnett in a walking boot at the end of Wednesday’s night’s loss to the Nets. Ainge was asked if Garnett was indeed at 100 percent, what would the logic be behind him wearing a walking boot:

“Well, you know, so first of all, there’s no such thing as 100 percent for anybody, right now,” Ainge said. “But KG, you can see how well he’s moving on the court. Last night, he didn’t have one of his better games on the court, but he was moving very well. You could see him defense laterally and he was rebounding and he was very active. The walking boot is just precautionary. It’s just … some guys keep ice on their legs after every game — sometimes, their legs are sore, sometimes, they’re not. They do it as a precautionary thing.

“The walking boot … he has some inflammation in his foot, so every time he stops playing, he has the walking boot on. He doesn’t wear it all the time, but he just wears it after games to make sure his foot isn’t moving any more than it needs to. So it’s just precautionary right now.”

Ainge also expressed confidence that based in part what the 2010 team was able to accomplish in the postseason, he feels good about where this team is as the 2013 playoffs loom.

“I know what our guys are made of. I know how they’ve stepped up in the past,” he said. “There’s been year’s where we …. what was in 2010, when we finished the season 27-27 in the last 54 games? I was not real confidence going in, but I was in awe of watching our team play its best basketball it’s played in the KG era in that stretch — against Cleveland who had the leading record in the league and against Orlando who had the second-best record in the East. I was in awe of what they were able to step up and do.

“In order to do that, you have to have guys playing on all cylinders. I think the good news is that our team is getting healthier. Unfortunately, Rondo and Barbosa and Sully aren’t coming back. But I feel like KG is moving well and I think Paul is getting better and moving well. By the time the playoffs roll around, I think we’ll be in good shape.”

Here are some of the other highlights of his Q&A:

Has Pat Riley contacted you lately? Were you surprised at his statement?

“Well, I don’t want to get much into that. It’s old news — boring. Nobody cares.”

Were you surprised he responded at all?

“Yeah, I think so. Just because I don’t think that … we live in a world in the media where sound bytes are used. I think that … you can blow things out of proportion. But yeah. I was a little surprised. But I don’t really care.”

Is the Lakers-Celtics thing still a thing with Pat Riley? The Boston Garden stories, the lack of air conditioning and all that stuff? Is that the reason for the anger?

“I have no idea. I have no idea. It was only speculation.”

Do you still think of the rivalry today?

“Absolutely not. Never. Never once crosses my mind. They were great times and great rivalries with great players. I never had any hatred toward those players. I had a great deal of respect for those teams. I thought the 80s Celtics and the 80s Lakers were two of the best teams in the history of the game. It was a fun time.”

On Wednesday’s loss to the Nets:

“So first of all, let me just … you’ve got to give credit to New Jersey. I honestly believe that we played really well in the first half and the game was intense and … I thought both teams were very focused. But you have to hand it to New Jersey. I think New Jersey would have beat any team in the NBA last night, the way they played. They were really into it. Deron Williams was spectacular in the game. Lopez played a fantastic game, as did Joe Johnson. They made a lot of tough shots. You have to give them credit. That happens in the NBA often. They’re a very good tam that was really on their game.”

Are they a tough matchup?

“They are a tough matchup. They’re bigger at every position. Much of that game from point guard to center with the lineups we played last night and the way we played, they were bigger and stronger at every single position than we were. That doesn’t mean that we can’t beat them. Sometimes, that happens. Last night, I thought was one of those games.I know that coaches don’t see it that we, and players, they always think they can do something better or something different to make a difference. But I thought that Deron and Joe Johnson and Lopez in particular, their three big-time scorers, their three max contract players were very difficult to play against last night, and gave us a great game.”

Is a No. 7 seed the right level for your team? Do you view your team as a seventh seed?

“i do not, but we’ve eared the seventh seed at this stage. I think there are teams ahead of us in the standings that we can beat. But at the same time, whether we finish sixth, seventh or eighth in the playoffs, playing one of the top three seeds is going to be a big-time challenge. Whoever we play, we will have less room for error than they will. We will have to play our best basketball in order to win a first-round playoff series.”

On a possible matchup with Indiana and why it’s a good matchup for Boston as opposed to the Nets:

“I think that Indiana’s size is different. I don’t think it’s strength as much … New Jersey has strength at every position. Deron Williams is a beast as a point guard. He’s a big, strong kid, and then Joe Johnson is a very big as a two-guard. With Gerald wallace, who is another tough and active guy for a three-man, and then, Reggie Evans is as tough and as strong as he is at a four-man in the league. And then, Brook Lopez as a seven-footer, he’s … they’re just a beast at every position. It’s a physical, hand-to-hand combat matchup at every position, and that’s difficult. Indiana isn’t like that. Indiana has some size and length, but they’re not, they don’t have the same kind of strength and power than New Jersey has.”

This is the time of year where you miss Rajon Rondo, a guy who can carry you throughout a series. Do you need a guy like that to win in the postseason? And who is that guy on this team?

“Mike, you don’t replace Rajon Rondo. He was the starter on the Eastern Conference All-Star Team. He is a guy who has been able to neutralize the Chris Paul’s and the Deron Williams and the stars that we play against. Rondo — I’ve been telling you this from the time Rondo got hurt when everyone was saying our team was playing as good without him: Rondo has been a most valuable player in at least a few, but maybe more than few — maybe a handful of playoff series the last few years with some of the best players in the world in those playoff series. He has been the most valuable player in those series. Against Chicago, against Cleveland. Against Orlando. He has had spectacular playoff series. Legendary. Legendary. Last year against Miami, he was the one by far that gave us an opportunity to beat Miami and put us ahead 3-2 in that playoff series. I think it goes without saying that we’ll miss Rondo. I don’t now who …. nobody is going to replace Rondo. We just have to find a different way to win.”

Can you at this stage of their careers, rely on KG or Paul Pierce to not replace Rondo, but maybe turn back the clock a little bit?

“We need them to have some flashbacks, for sure. But I think we need a balanced effort. We need production out of Jeff, we need production out of Jason, we need production out of Avery, Courtney, Brandon Bass. We need a full team effort. We need to have those games where we have six or seven guys scoring in double figures. We’re not going to be getting guys who will score 40 in one playoff game. We need balance and production out of our whole team.”

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